December 2021



News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends
Book Reviews
Links We Love
December Reading List: Best of the Year
Author Corner: Nhung Tran Davies
Illustrator’s Studio: Lisa Boivin
Experts’ Picks

News from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre & Friends

Be a Friend, Share a Book!

Be a friend, share a book! Support the CCBC by purchasing this vintage style poster by celebrated children’s book illustrator Pierre Collet-Derby. Produced entirely in Canada, these prints are letterpressed by Everlovin’ Press and are signed by the illustrator. Proceeds go to the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

Buy you copy here!

The Great Canadian Book Project

TEACH Magazine is excited to launch a new video series that showcases Canadian books as valuable teaching tools. Plus, the videos come with a suite of curriculum-linked lesson plans to support teachers and implementation!

Learn more here.

To celebrate, we’re also offering a free giveaway! Check us out on Twitter, where you can enter to win a selection of books as featured in the videos. Contest ends December 15.

Purchase One-Of-A-Kind Art to Support the CCBC!

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited to announce the launch of the virtual Picture Book Gallery. Award-winning Canadian illustrators are selling original art to support the CCBC’s annual Canadian Children’s Book Week program. Illustrators are donating 60% of the value of their original art in support of the CCBC.

Visit the gallery here!

IBBY Canada named official sponsor of International Children’s Book Day 2022

IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People, Canadian section) is delighted to announce that our section has been selected as the official sponsor of International Children’s Book Day 2022. Every year, on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday (April 2), International Children’s Book Day is celebrated to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books. IBBY International has been sponsoring the event since 1967.

Save the Date: Your School Can Apply for Canadian Children’s Book Week on December 8!

Canadian Children’s Book Week is the single most important national event celebrating Canadian children’s books and the importance of reading.

The upcoming tour will take place from May 1 to May 7, 2022, and will allow young readers to connect with highly acclaimed and emerging authors and illustrators. See the complete list of everyone touring here. 

You school, library or community centre can apply to take part! Applications open December 8. Check for more details.

Learn more about Canadian Children’s Book Week at and at

Malaika’s Costume Float at the 117th Toronto Santa Claus Parade!
Students All Across Canada Have Started to Receive Their Copies of Malaika’s Costume

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) is excited for the 2021 TD Grade One Book Giveaway. Malaika’s Costume, written by Nadia L. Hohn and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, will be distributed to over 550,000 Grade 1 students in the coming months. The book is the first in a series of three and is published by Groundwood Books, with the French edition (Le costume de Malaika) published by Éditions Scholastic. Free downloads of activities and lessons are available online. Learn more here.

The Canada Council for the Arts Reveals the Governor General’s Literary Awards Winners

The 14 best books of 2021 published in Canada, were selected by peer assessment committees that followed a very rigorous process to deliberate and choose them from among the 70 finalists in seven categories, in both English and in French.

Young People’s Literature – Text Firefly – Philippa Dowding (Toronto, Ontario) DCB / Cormorant Books

Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books On the Trapline – David A. Robertson and Julie Flett (Winnipeg, Manitoba / Vancouver, British Columbia) Tundra Books / Penguin Random House Canada

Learn more here. 

Take your child or classroom on an adventure with MS Read-a-Thon

With over 40 years of fun, MS Read-a-Thon is a program you may remember from when you were a kid. Now you can share your childhood memories with your own kids in with the new and updated MS Read-a-Thon program. The rules are simple – read whatever you like, as much as you can!


Kids love MS Read-a-Thon and it’s never been easier or more exciting to take part. MS Read-a-Thon is more fun than ever before with a new, interactive website that lets kids track the books they read, download colouring pages and more.

Fundraising has never been easier and will help fund vital services for the MS community. You can register now to start fundraising and be ready for the official reading period from January 27th to February 28, 2022. Time to put your reading caps on and have loads of fun!

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is Nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The CCBC is Nominated for the 2022 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Among the nominees are a full 282 names from 71 countries including some of the world’s foremost creators of literature for children and young people, as well as reading promoters. You can view the full list here.

Representing Canada are:

Isabelle Arsenault, Author/Illustrator
Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Organisation
Deborah Ellis, Author
Jacques Goldstyn, Author/Illustrator
Robert Munsch, Author/Illustrator/Storyteller
Eric Walters, Author

Nahid Kazemi, Illustrator

Canada/United States
Zetta Elliott, Author/Illustrator
Jon Klassen, Author/Illustrator

Enter to Win Amazing Canadian Books for All Ages!

Enter to win our #CCBCBookAwards prize to win all of the books nominated for the 2021 English-language awards. See the full list of nominees here.

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Resources for Discussing Residential Schools and Indigenous Issues

Residential school history is a difficult subject to teach kids, but it’s something that all Canadians should know – so how do we do it?

Learn more here.

First Page Writing Contest Coming Soon!

CBC Books’ national creative writing challenge for Grades 7 to 12 students is coming back!

The First Page will be open for the entire month of February 2022.

The Challenge: Write the first page of a novel (300-400 words) imagining how a current day issue or trend has played out in 150 years. The book could be from any literary genre, from mystery or thriller to literary fiction, from adventure or romance to satire or science fiction.

Prizes: The winner of each category will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which delivers monthly boxes of books and literary-related goodies. The school library of each winner will also receive a donation of 50 books.

Everything you need to know about the challenge can be found at

Empowering Youth, One Generation at a Time: Free Resources 

The Rick Hansen Foundation School Program (RHFSP) is inspired by Rick’s belief in the power of youth and their ability to change the world. RHFSP raises awareness, challenges perceptions, and changes attitudes, through a variety of lessons and activities, empowering youth to take action on important issues.

RHFSP resources are designed for youth from K-12 and include age-appropriate lessons and interactive activities for every grade level. Free, bilingual, and connected to provincial curriculum, our resources are:

  • Ready-to-use
  • Deliverable online or in the classroom
  • Developed by educators, for educators
  • Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and incorporate Differentiated Instruction Strategies

Learn more here.

Purchase Our Greeting Cards and Support the CCBC!

With everyone across the country separated from their friends and families, we are all searching for ways to connect with one another. Support the CCBC and send your loved ones a greeting featuring art from past Canadian Children’s Book Week posters. Perfect for stocking stuffers, these greeting cards feature original art by illustrators Barbara Reid, Julie Flett, Ian Wallace, Wallace Edwards, Bill Slavin, Elly MacKay, Gabrielle Grimard and Eugenie Fernandes. All purchases from these packs of eight cards go towards programs like Canadian Children’s Book Week, the CCBC Book Awards and Bibliovideo

Visit our shop today!

Follow the CCBC on TikTok

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is now on TikTok! Follow us, like our first video and stay tuned for more!

Order the Fall Issue of Best Books for Kids & Teens!

Best Books for Kids & Teens is your guide to the best new Canadian books, magazines, audio and video for children and teens. Whether you’re stocking a bookshelf in a classroom, library or at home, every title in this guide has been given the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s stamp of approval. Expert committees of educators, booksellers, school and public librarians from across Canada have handpicked the materials listed in this guide. Committees look for excellence in writing, illustration or performance. Most importantly, these committees focus on selecting materials that will appeal to children and young adults.

Buy the issue here!

#GiveKidsBooks / #LectureEnCadeauPourJeunes

Get an early start to your holiday shopping with this great playlist of authors and illustrators recommending their favourite books. Find the full list of videos here!

Want to stay updated on the world of Canadian children’s books all month long? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Canadian Children’s Book News Online Preview

Canadian Children’s Book News: Winter Reading

It’s time for winter reading! Published quarterly, our magazine Canadian Children’s Book News reviews books, interviews authors and illustrators, includes annotated reading lists, informs and updates readers about issues affecting children’s education and reading, and provides information and news about the world of children’s books in Canada.

We are currently featuring bonus reviews online. See them all here. 

Links We Love

Articles and videos of interest to educators and parents.

Edmonton author Lorna Schultz Nicholson releases her 45th book (Global News)

Saskatchewan Author releases new children’s book about celebrating differences (Discover Weyburn)

Kids’ books gift guide: Find new ways for young readers to explore the world (The Globe and Mail)

Holiday Gift Guide to More Than 60 of the Best LGBTQ-Inclusive Children’s Books and Music Albums of 2021 (Mombian)

15 Nonfiction Children’s Books On Every Topic From Nature To History To Space (Romper)

Grade 5 friends collect hundreds of books to give to children in the hospital (CTV News)

L.M. Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables named most translated Canadian book (CBC Books)

Canadian booksellers are struggling, but not in the way you might think (CBC News)

20 Best Graphic Novels for Kids of Every Reading Level (Good Housekeeping)

N.S. moms pen new book that celebrates gender-diverse kids (CBC News)

How to Diversify Your Child’s Bookshelves (Brightly)

75 facts you might not know about Anne of Green Gables and author Lucy Maud Montgomery (CBC Books)

The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books (The New York Times)

Vancouver Island resident, 95, takes inspiration from Dolly Parton and launches free book program for toddlers (CBC News)

Friends team up to publish children’s book featuring Great Bear Rainforest creatures (Coast Mountain News)

Leap into winter! Artist Elly MacKay reveals how she created this charming CBC Arts logo (CBC Arts)

December Reading List: Our Favourite Books of the Year

Our December newsletter is a celebration of the CCBC staff’s favourite books of 2021!

Picture Books

Written by Vikki VanSickle
Illustrated by Anna Pirolli
Tundra Books, 2021
ISBN 978-0-7352-6394-9
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades K-2

This clever tale mixes street art, animals and gorgeous illustrations to create a meditation on how art can uplift any creature’s spirit — human or animal — when it speaks directly to them. Every page of Anna Pirolli’s stunning artwork is its own masterpiece with its bold pops of colour and sly humor, elevating Vikki VanSickle’s subtle but evocative text.


The Doll
Written by Nhung Tran Davies
Illustrated by Ravy Puth
Second Story Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7726-0165-7
IL: Ages 5-9 RL: Grades 2-4

A young girl and her family arrive in an airport in a new country. They are refugees, migrants who have travelled across the world to find safety. Strangers greet them, and one of them gifts the little girl with a doll. Decades later, that little girl is grown up, and she has the chance to welcome a group of refugees who are newly arrived in her adopted country. To the youngest of them, a little girl, she gifts a doll, knowing it will help make her feel welcome. Inspired by the author’s own experience as a child refugee, when a stranger’s wonderful gift made such a difference that she was determined to repeat it years later.


It Fell From the Sky
Written and illustrated by Terry and Eric Fan
Simon & Schuster, 2021
ISBN 978-1-9821-8609-8
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 1-2

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.
None of the insects know where it came from, or what it is. Some say it’s an egg. Others, a gumdrop. But whatever it is, it fell near Spider’s house, so he’s convinced it belongs to him. Spider builds a wonderous display so that insects from far and wide can come look at the marvel. Spider has their best interests at heart. So what if he has to charge a small fee? So what if the lines are long? So what if no one can even see the wonder anymore? But what will Spider do after everyone stops showing up?


A Kid is a Kid is a Kid
Written by Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Groundwood Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7730-6250-1
IL: Ages 3-6 RL: Grades P-1

Being the new kid is hard, a child in the school playground tells us. I can think of better things to ask than if I’m a boy or a girl. Another child comes along and says she gets asked why she always has her nose in a book. Someone else gets asked where they come from. One after another, children share the questions they’re tired of being asked again and again — as opposed to what they believe are the most important or interesting things about themselves. As they move around the playground, picking up new friends along the way, there is a feeling of understanding and acceptance among them. And in the end, the new kid comes up with the question they would definitely all like to hear: “Hey kid, want to play?”


Malaika’s Surprise
(The Malaika Series)
Written by Nadia L. Hohn
Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Groundwood Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7730-6264-8
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades PreK-2

It’s summertime, and Malaika and Adèle are enjoying playing carnival in their bright costumes, dancing and laughing in the sunshine. But when Mummy announces that they will soon have a new baby brother or sister, Malaika is unsure how to feel about another change in her family. Will Mummy forget about me? Back at school, Malaika is excited to see her teacher and classmates, and makes friends with a new girl who has recently arrived from a faraway country, just like Malaika. Then on her birthday, a surprise arrives to remind Malaika of the importance of family, and the story ends with a celebration of her family’s love.




On the Trapline
Written by David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
Tundra Books, 2021
ISBN 978-0-7352-6668-1
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades K-2

A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago — a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.



The Rock from the Sky
Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-53621-563-2
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades K-2

Here comes The Rock from the Sky, a hilarious meditation on the workings of friendship, fate, shared futuristic visions, and that funny feeling you get that there’s something off somewhere, but you just can’t put your finger on it. Merging broad visual suspense with wry wit, celebrated picture book creator Jon Klassen gives us a wholly original comedy for the ages.


The Sour Cherry Tree
Written by Naseem Hrab
Illustrated by Nahid Kazemi
Owlkids Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-77147-414-6
IL: Ages 4-8 RL: Grades 1-3

After her grandfather’s death, a young girl wanders through his house. As she tours each room, the objects she discovers stir memories of her grandfather—her baba bozorg. His closet full of clothes reminds her of the mints he kept in his pockets. His favorite teacup conjures thoughts of the fig cookies he would offer her. The curtains in the living room bring up memories of hide-and-seek games and the special relationship that she and her baba bozorg shared, even though they spoke different languages.


Stand Like a Cedar
Written by Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrated by Carrielynn Victor
HighWater Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-5537-9921-4
IL: Ages 3-5 RL: Grades K-2

Award-winning storyteller Nicola I. Campbell shows what it means to “stand like a cedar” on this beautiful journey of discovery through the wilderness. Learn the names of animals in the Nłeʔkepmxcín or Halq’emeylem languages as well as the teachings they have for us. Experience a celebration of sustainability and connection to the land through lyrical storytelling and Carrielynn Victor’s breathtaking art in this children’s illustrated book.




Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know
Written by Brittany Luby
Illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Translated by Alvin Ted Corbiere and Alan Corbiere
Groundwood Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7730-6326-3
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades PreK-2

In this lyrical story-poem, written in Anishinaabemowin and English, a child and grandmother explore their surroundings, taking pleasure in the familiar sights that each new season brings. We accompany them through warm summer days full of wildflowers, bees and blueberries, then fall, when bears feast before hibernation and forest mushrooms are ripe for harvest. Winter mornings begin in darkness as deer, mice and other animals search for food, while spring brings green shoots poking through melting snow and the chirping of peepers.



Tough Like Mum
Written by Lana Button
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
Tundra Books, 2021
ISBN 978-0-73526-598-1
IL: Ages 3-7 RL: Grades PreK-1

Kim’s mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers. Kim is tough, too. She doesn’t need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove. Kim and her mum are tough.  But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn’t look like what you’d expect.




We Dream Medicine Dreams
Written and illustrated by Lisa Boivin
HighWater Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-5537-9987-0
IL: Ages 6-8 RL: Grades K-2

When a little girl dreams about a bear, her grandfather explains how we connect with the knowledge of our ancestors through dreams. Bear, Hawk, Caribou, and Wolf all have teachings to share to help us live a good life. But when Grampa gets sick and falls into a coma, the little girl must lean on his teachings as she learns to say goodbye.



Junior & Intermediate Fiction

Written by Thomas King
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan
HarperCollins Canada, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4434-6067-5
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grades 3-4

On a trip to visit his older sister, who has moved away from the family home on the reserve to Salt Lake City, a young boy and his mother are posed a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. Are you Canadian, the border guards ask, or American? “Blackfoot.” And when border guards will not accept their citizenship, mother and son wind up trapped in an all-too-real limbo between nations that do not recognize who they are.


Burying the Moon
Written by Andrée Poulin
Illustrated by Sonali Zohra
Groundwood Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7730-6604-2
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-7

In Latika’s village in rural India, there are no toilets. No toilets mean that the women have to wait until night to do their business in a field. There are scorpions and snakes in the field, and germs that make people sick. For the girls in the village, no toilets mean leaving school when they reach puberty. No one in the village wants to talk about this shameful problem. But Latika has had enough. When a government representative visits their village, she sees her chance to make one of her dreams come true: the construction of public toilets, which would be safer for everybody in her village.



Elvis, Me and the Lemonade Stand Summer
Written by Leslie Gentile
DCB, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7708-6615-7
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

It’s the summer of 1978 and most people think Elvis Presley has been dead for a year. But not eleven-year-old Truly Bateman — because she knows Elvis is alive and well and living in the Eagle Shores Trailer Park. Maybe no one ever thought to look for him on an indigenous reserve on Vancouver Island. It’s a busy summer for Truly. Though her mother is less of a mother than she ought to be, and spends her time drinking and smoking and working her way through new boyfriends, Truly is determined to raise as much money for herself as she can through her lemonade stand…and to prove that her cool new neighbour is the one and only King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.




The Fabulous Zed Watson 
Written by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester
HarperCollins Canada, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4434-6092-7
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grade 2

Zed Watson loves a few things: their name (which they chose themself!), their big rambunctious family, and—oh yeah—monsters. When Zed discovered the mystery surrounding an unpublished novel called The Monster’s Castle, they were completely hooked. Now Zed is a member of a small but dedicated legion devoted to finding the long-buried text. When a breakthrough discovery leads Zed to the route that they are sure will take them to the treasure, they know it’s time for a road trip. And with the help of their shy, flora-loving neighbour, Gabe, and his sister, Sam, a geologist who is driving back to college in Arizona, Zed and company are soon off on a wild adventure following cryptic clues.



The Great Bear
(The Misewa Saga)
Written by David A. Robertson
Puffin Canada, 2021
ISBN 978-0-7352-6613-1
IL: Ages 10 and up RL: Grades 5-8

In this second book in the Narnia-inspired Indigenous middle-grade fantasy series, Eli and Morgan journey once more to Misewa, travelling back in time. Back at home after their first adventure in the Barren Grounds, Eli and Morgan each struggle with personal issues: Eli is being bullied at school, and tries to hide it from Morgan, while Morgan has to make an important decision about her birth mother. They turn to the place where they know they can learn the most, and make the journey to Misewa to visit their animal friends. This time they travel back in time and meet a young fisher that might just be their lost friend. But they discover that the village is once again in peril, and they must dig deep within themselves to find the strength to protect their beloved friends. Can they carry this strength back home to face their own challenges?




Living With Viola
Written and illustrated by Rosena Fung
Annick Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7732-1549-5
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grade 4-7

Livy is already having trouble fitting in as the new girl at school—and then there’s Viola. Viola is Livy’s anxiety brought to life, a shadowy twin that only Livy can see or hear. Livy tries to push back against Viola’s relentless judgment, but nothing seems to work until she strikes up new friendships at school. Livy hopes that Viola’s days are numbered. But when tensions arise both at home and at school, Viola rears her head stronger than ever. Only when Livy learns how to ask for help and face her anxiety does she finally figure out living with Viola.



The Street Belongs to Us
Written by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez
Illustrated by Gabriela Godoy
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-5515-2840-3
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grades 4-5

In 1984 Los Angeles, Alex is a tomboy who would rather wear her hair short and her older brother’s hand-me-downs, and Wolf is a troubled kid who’s been wearing the same soldier’s uniform ever since his mom died. They temporarily set their worries aside when their street is torn up by digging machines and transformed into a muddy wonderland with endless possibilities. To pass the hot summer days, the two best friends seize the opportunity to turn Muscatel Avenue into a battleground and launch a gleeful street war against the rival neighbourhood kids.




Thanks A Lot Universe 
Written by Chad Lucas
Amulet Books, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4197-5102-8
IL: Ages 10-14 RL: Grade 4-7

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team–even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .



Young Adult Fiction

Blood Like Magic
Written by Liselle Sambury
Margaret K. McElderry Books , 2021
ISBN 978-1-5344-6528-2
IL: Ages 13-16 RL: Grades 9 and up

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Written by Tanya Boteju
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021
ISBN 978-1-5344-5502-3
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

To Daya Wijesinghe, a bruise is a mixture of comfort and control. Since her parents died in an accident she survived, bruises have become a way to keep her pain on the surface of her skin so she doesn’t need to deal with the ache deep in her heart. So when chance and circumstances bring her to a roller derby bout, Daya is hooked. Yes, the rules are confusing and the sport seems to require the kind of teamwork and human interaction Daya generally avoids. But the opportunities to bruise are countless, and Daya realizes that if she’s going to keep her emotional pain at bay, she’ll need all the opportunities she can get.


The Forest of Stolen Girls
Written by June Hur
Feiwel & Friends, 2021
ISBN 978-1-2502-2958-8
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

1426, Joseon (Korea). Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest near a gruesome crime scene.
Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared from the same forest that nearly stole his daughters. He travels to their hometown on the island of Jeju to investigate… only to vanish as well. Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and collides with her now estranged sister, Maewol—Hwani comes to realize that the answer could lie within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.


Iron Widow
Written by Xiran Jay Zhao
Penguin Teen, 2021
ISBN 978-0-73526-993-4
IL: Ages 14 and up RL: Grades 9-11

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain. When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​


Like Home
Written by Louisa Onomé
HarperCollins Canada, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4434-5994-5
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Chinelo—or Nelo, as her best friend, Kate, calls her—is all about her neighbourhood, Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, its ride-or-die sense of community and the memories she has of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, most of Nelo’s friends, except for Kate, have moved away. But as long as the two girls have each other, Nelo’s good. Then Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends upon Ginger East with promises to “fix the neighbourhood.” Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama that is unfolding on a national scale.


Nothing But Life
Written by Brent Va Staalduinen
Dundurn Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4597-4618-3
IL: Ages 13 and up RL: Grades 8-9

Dills and his mom have returned to Hamilton, her hometown, hoping to leave the horrors of Windsor behind. But it’s impossible to escape the echoes of tragedy, and trouble always follows trouble. When Dills hurts a new classmate, it comes out in court that he was in the Windsor High library when the shooter came in. But he won’t talk about what he saw, what he still sees whenever he closes his eyes. He can’t. He definitely can’t tell anyone that the Windsor Shooter is his stepfather, Jesse, that Jesse can speak into his mind from hundreds of kilometres away, and that Dills still loves him even though he committed an unspeakable crime.


Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story
Written by David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson
HighWater Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-5537-9334-2
IL: Ages 14-18 RL: Grades 9-12

A school assignment to interview a residential school survivor leads Daniel to Betsy, his friend’s grandmother, who tells him her story. Abandoned as a young child, Betsy was soon adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changed. Betsy was taken away to a residential school. There she was forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalled the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls — words that gave her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive. Sugar Falls is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. We wish to acknowledge, with the utmost gratitude, Betty’s generosity in sharing her story. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sugar Falls goes to support the bursary program for The Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation.


Tremendous Things
Written by Susan Nielsen
Penguin Teen, 2021
ISBN 978-0-7352-7120-3
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-7

We all have moments that define us. For the comically clueless Wilbur, his moment happened on the first day of middle school, when someone shared his private letter with the entire student body. Now it’s the start of ninth grade and Wilbur hasn’t been able to escape that major humiliation. His good friend Alex stuck by him, but Alex doesn’t have as much time since he started dating Fabrizio. Luckily, Wil can confide in his best friend: his elderly neighbour Sal. Also, Wil’s in the school band, where he plays the triangle. They’re doing an exchange program with students from Paris, and Wilbur’s billet, Charlie, captures his heart. Charlie likes him, but only as a friend. So Alex, Fabrizio and Sal host a Queer Eye-style intervention to get Wil in shape and to build his confidence so he can impress Charlie when their band visits Paris, and just maybe replace humiliation with true romance in the City of Love.



Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Achievement
(Amazing Atlantic Canadians)
Written by Lindsay Ruck
Illustrated by James Bentley
Nimbus Publishing, 2021
ISBN 978-1-77108-917-3
IL: Ages 8-12 RL: Grade 4-6

This fascinating, full-colour illustrated book features over 50 amazing Black people from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, sharing their incredible stories and accomplishments, past and present. Among these amazing Black Atlantic Canadians are people who saved lives, set sports records (Delmore William “Buddy” Daye), achieved international superstardom (Measha Brueggergosman), made change in their own neighbourhoods (Quentrel Provo), overcame injustice (Viola Desmond), and enacted many other inspiring deeds of courage and perseverance.


The Bug Club
Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel
Drawn & Quarterly, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7704-6415-5
IL: Ages 4-9 RL: Grades 3-4

Most people know that spiders have eight eyes, but what about the caterpillar? These little critters have them beat with a whopping twelve! Did you know mosquitoes are attracted to smelly feet? That the honey bee has hair on her eyeballs? That butterfly feet double as noses? And grasshoppers have ears on their bellies? These are just some of the many things about bugs that make them endlessly enchanting. Elise’s inquisitiveness and charm pop off the page as she takes us on a walk through her mind—and the awe-inspiring natural wonders that exist right outside our doorsteps.


(Pride In)
Written by Emilie Dufresne
BookLife Publishing, 2021
ISBN 978-1-8392-7084-0
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-7

Sometimes being who you are can be a hard thing to do. Learn about people from across the LGBTQIA+ community who celebrate who they are and never stop fighting for what they believe in. No matter who you are, inside or out, this book is here to teach you that you can be proud of who you are.



The Disability Experience: Working Towards Belonging
Written by Hannalora Leavitt
Illustrated by Belle Wuthrich
Orca Book Publishers, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4598-1928-3
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 6-8

People with disabilities (PWDs) have the same aspirations for their lives as you do for yours. The difference is that PWDs don’t have the same access to education, employment, housing, transportation and healthcare in order to achieve their goals. In The Disability Experience you’ll meet people with different kinds of disabilities, and you’ll begin to understand the ways PWDs have been ignored, reviled and marginalized throughout history. The book also celebrates the triumphs and achievements of PWDs and shares the powerful stories of those who have fought for change.


Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words
Edited by Dr. Lindsay Herriot, Kate Fry
Orca Book Publishers, 2021
ISBN 978-1-4598-3137-7
IL: Ages 9-12 RL: Grades 4-5

What does it mean to be young and transgender today? Growing Up Trans shares stories, essays, art and poetry created by trans youth aged 11 to 18. In their own words, the works illustrate the trans experience through childhood, family and daily life, school, their bodies and mental health. Together the collection is a story of the challenges, big and small, of being a young trans person. At the same time, it’s a toolkit for all young people, transgender or not, about what understanding, acceptance and support for the trans community looks like. In addition to the contributed works, there are questions and tips from experts in the field of transgender studies to challenge the reader on how to be a trans ally.



The Power of Style: How Fashion and Beauty Are Being Used to Reclaim Cultures
Written by Christian Allaire
Annick Press, 2021
ISBN 978-1-7732-1491-7
IL: Ages 12 and up RL: Grades 7 and up

As a fashion-obsessed Ojibwe teen, Christian Allaire rarely saw anyone that looked like him in the magazines or movies he sought out for inspiration. Now the Fashion and Style Writer for Vogue, he is working to change that—because clothes are never just clothes. Men’s heels are a statement of pride in the face of LGTBQ+ discrimination, while ribbon shirts honor Indigenous ancestors and keep culture alive. Allaire takes the reader through boldly designed chapters to discuss additional topics like cosplay, make up, hijabs, and hair, probing the connections between fashion and history, culture, politics, and social justice.




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Listen to Our Podcast!

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Author’s Corner: Nhung Tran-Davies

NHUNG TRAN-DAVIES is an author, physician, mother of three, and an advocate for social justice in education. She came to Canada as a refugee from the Vietnam war when she was a young child. She loves to write children’s stories that convey the humanity in our lives. Her books have been shortlisted for the Alberta Literary Award, the Red Maple Award, and the Blue Spruce Award.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author?

I am a writer, physician and an advocate for social justice through education. I write, first and foremost, because I have a love of writing and a passion for words. I write, at times, because my thoughts become restless over certain social issues, and to calm it down, I capture the issues in written words. I love to write children’s stories, especially stories that convey the humanity in our lives. For me, children are wonderful reminders of the beauty in a grain of sand. Children embody the hope we have for the future, and so I hope my stories will help create empathy, compassion, understanding and respect for one another.

I got my start as an author about a decade ago when my nephew was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I self-published a fun little story as a way to raise funds for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada to help find a cure. I have since donated proceeds from all my books to charity.  After my first book, I wanted to pursue traditional publishers because in my mind, if my manuscripts were accepted by these industry experts, it would affirm to me that I could write. I believed in my stories, and so I persevered through many rejection letters until one day in 2013 a highly revered senior editor Peter Carver at Red Deer Press sent a message saying how much he appreciated the manuscript I had submitted, and here we are today.

Otherwise, I love travelling the world, reading poetry, going to the movies, and just hanging out in the garden with my three rambunctious children. Unfortunately, I can’t cook, can’t dance or sing.

The Doll was one of the CCBC’s favourite books of 2021. This picture book was based on your personal experience: what lead to you turning a childhood memory into The Doll?

The Doll is a children’s picture book that was 40 years in the making. I, however, did not start out intending on writing a book about this childhood memory. The book was inspired by a doll I was given from a young girl named Adrienne forty years ago when my family first arrived in Canada as refugees from the Vietnam War. Having come from war and poverty, as a child, I didn’t know what to expect coming through the gates of the Edmonton International Airport.  My heart lit up when I was presented with a doll. That doll meant everything to me and it came to symbolize for me all the kindness, generosity and compassion of so many Canadians. Knowing that all that I have and all that I’ve become is because of this simple act of kindness, I live to this day to pay forward that kindness. Forty years later, it was my turn to stand at the airport gates to give a doll to a little Syrian refugee child, Alma.

CBC News happened to capture that moment when I gave little Alma a doll. This little gesture of passing on a doll to Alma meant something special only to myself, and so I was taken aback when people across the country and around the world wrote to me expressing how touched they were by this. When I realized how that moment impacted so many others, I felt it was important to capture the story in a book.

You are taking part in the 2022 Canadian Children’s Book Week virtual tour, visiting students all across Canada virtually. What are you most looking forward to?

Oh my goodness, I am incredibly excited about this tour. I can’t wait to meet all the children. I especially look forward to having conversations with them. Children have so many curious, insightful questions. They are wide-eyed and enthusiastic about life and the world. I know I will learn so much from them, as they often lift my spirits and give me hope as well. It will be so amazing.

What advice do you have for educators who are interested in using your books in the classroom?

I am just so thankful for educators who are interested in using my books in the classroom. I think many children will see themselves or their parents and grandparents in my stories, while many other children will gain a greater appreciation of their friend’s journey. Picture books are great in that it combines both the beauty of words and imageries. Pictures can be worth a thousand words when delving into such complex matters as refugee and immigration. The images can convey, especially to children, the essence of the issue far better than words.

With my book The Doll, there can be conversations about how we are a nation of immigrants. These discussions will help students appreciate our diverse backgrounds, culture, languages, religions, while recognizing how beautiful we are together.

There can also be conversations about the plights of refugees.  The theme of searching for hope and freedom is universal. It is important that children not forget our history of war and conflict, because humanity can only grow if we know our past. Stories such as this will help students understand and have compassion for why people become refugees and why they make the difficult and dangerous journeys across the seas. Students will therefore understand why none of us should turn our backs on refugees.

Most of all, students will be empowered with the knowledge that they can positively change the course of someone else’s life. Children will appreciate that a seemingly simple act of kindness, in a moment of time can ripple forth beyond our doors and neighbourhoods, across the world and through the generations. Kindness is a very powerful force and a very practical solution to many of society’s ailments.

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books?

I am so excited about my upcoming books. Green Papayas is a picture book slated for release next fall. It is the story of a child’s time with their aging grandmother who is declining both cognitively and physically. It is through the mother’s recollections of the past that her children learn of the hardship and courage that defined their grandmother and which gave them dreams.

I wrote this story because, as a physician, I care for many elders who live in long-term care facilities. I am saddened by the loneliness of their lives as they lose their identity with the passage of time. We often forget that these elders are not just patients with dementia, but actual people with stories filled with amazing courage, love, and hope.

The book I’m currently working on is another picture book called Rubber and Magic. It is story about how unkind words and bullying can wear a child down, but children, like rubber and magic, are resilient. I hope to reaffirm how every child is special, with unique gifts, and when the child recognizes this, unkind words cannot keep the child down.

Find out more about Nhung on her website,

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Watch Your Favourite Book On Bibliovideo

Subscribe to Bibliovideo today to watch videos made specifically for booklovers! Don’t forget to push the bell to receive updates when new videos are uploaded.

Featured Video

Indigenous / Autochtone


I Read Canadian / Je lis un livre canadien

Telling Tales: Celebrating Stories

Illustrator Demonstrations / Démonstrations des illustrateurs

TD Summer Reading Club / Club de lecture d’été TD

Stay Home, Read Together / Lisons ensemble à la maison

Author Interviews / Entretiens avec des écrivains

Book Readings / Séances de lecture


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


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Illustrator’s Studio: Lisa Boivin

LISA BOIVIN is a member of the Deninu Kue First Nation. She is an interdisciplinary artist and a Doctoral Candidate at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. Lisa uses images as a pedagogical tool to bridge gaps between medical ethics and aspects of Indigenous cultures and worldviews. She is writing and collaging an arts-based thesis that addresses the colonial barriers Indigenous patients navigate in the current healthcare system. Lisa strives to humanize clinical
medicine as she situates her art in the Indigenous continuum of passing knowledge through images.


First, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as an author and illustrator?

Stories have always acted as a flare, guiding my journey, leading me to many places.

When I began studying bioethics, I asked my father for feedback on many topics. I learned that his answer to all bioethical questions came from story, dreams, and the land.

For example, I asked for his perspective of why some Indigenous patients who have been diagnosed with cancer choose to refuse complex treatment plans. He responded that “a man’s greatest poverty is experienced when he is separated from his hunting grounds.” This story offered me a ne way of thinking about this issue.

I tell stories, using images and words, in the hope of helping people in the world of healthcare. Patients’ stories (or what we might also call patient narratives) guide us in healthcare education, generating meaning for clinicians, practitioners, researchers, and educators.

Picture books can be a helpful tool for children during the process of mourning a loved one who has passed. Can you explain your approach to this theme in We Dream Medicine Dreams?

The hospital can be a very scary place for children. I wanted to show that children can take control of those feelings by imagining a place where healing can take place – even in dire circumstances when a loved one passes.

When we lose someone, it helps to remember the gifts that they have given us. Those who have passed want us the thrive and grow. This is a good path for beginning our healing journey.

Art from We Dream Medicine Dreams

I know this to be true for me. Years ago, my father was removed from a ventilator. I was not there. This book is a ceremony in many ways. I learned a great deal from my father about dreams before he died. I felt powerless and needed to facilitate my own narrative. For me, this was a visual narrative – and it became this book.

Furthermore, I was one of those Indigenous children who was taken away from their family. I knew my father for a very short time. He tried to share a lifetime of stories before he died. Many of the teachings about story started in our discussions about dreams. Those images of Granddaughter sleeping on Grampa’s chest in the book are me sleeping on my father’s chest. All those lessons given to me about dreams and the land have helped me recover such a profound loss. Those dreams and animal teachings help me to thrive as I navigate the world around me.

A lot of your work focuses on incorporating Indigenous worldviews in current health care practices. Tell us about how you came to create books for younger audiences.

For me, losing a parent was very confusing. I was aware that I was experiencing this loss as an adult, but I felt it in my heart as a child. It was a sinking feeling of loss, of fear, of helplessness…watching it unfold and having no control. As it was happening, I comforted myself by thinking of my father dreaming of returning to his hunting grounds.

The artwork is central to the storytelling in your book. For you, what comes first, the story or the images?

The images are always first. Most of the images are there at least in draft form before I pitch a book. Both of my books are written about the loss of family members, and the images start as a healing exercise for me. I am literally painting and/or collaging a safe space to heal.

For me, there are times when the answers to life’s challenges are wordless. Instead, I work them out in an image. This is a tool that I have perfected in my scholarship as a health researcher. I design the images and extract concepts from them. This has proven to be a powerful teaching technique in healthcare education.

What projects are you working on now? Can you tell us about any upcoming books? 

I am currently collaging my PhD thesis. When it is completed, I am hoping to transform it into a resource for teaching clinicians how to create more meaningful relationships with their patients.

I have also started illustrating and writing a book on allyship. The book tells the story of Moose and Blue Jay and reflects the allyship relationship I have with a white settler colleague and friend, Stephanie Nixon. I will create the book, and Stephanie, who conducts research on allyship, will create the teaching manual that goes with it.

Find out more about Lisa by following her on twitter

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Experts’ Picks

Booksellers’ Picks

Canada’s independent booksellers share their recommendations for kids and teens. To find a local independent bookstore, visit

Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS:

Urchin by Kate Story (Running the Goat, 2021) Ages 12 and up

While Dorthea has always felt like a bit of an outsider, both at home and amongst the girls at school, she is thrilled when she gets to disguise herself as a boy so that she can serve as an errand boy to the world-renowned Marconi who has come to Newfoundland to install telegraph stations. But Marconi has his own secret reasons for being there: his determination to be the first person to succeed at trans-Atlantic communication. However, when Dor’s mother is kidnapped by the fairies she soon discovers that Marconi’s plans have dire consequences for the fairy folk, and Dor may just have to thwart Marconi’s efforts in order to save her mother. A unique and utterly compelling combination of history, culture and fairy lore, this delightful tale is ethereal and evocative, and brings the St. John’s setting vividly to life. The family drama and Dor’s struggles to understand and accept herself are also sensitively depicted and skillfully woven into the story.



—Lisa Doucet, Co-manager

Woozles Children’s Bookstore: 1533 Birmingham St., Halifax, NS B3J 2J1

Librarians’ Picks

Canadian librarians share their recommendations for kids and teens.

Children of the Fox (A Thieves of Shadow Novel) by Kevin Sands (Penguin Random House Canada, 2021) Ages 8-12

In this edge-of-your seat series opener, set in an intriguing world with Spellweavers, enchantments and a talking fox, fourteen-year-old Callan is an expert con artist who knows how to play the odds and is highly skilled in the fine art of reading body language. After receiving a mysteriously cryptic job offer that seems to promise a dream-come-true payout, Callan joins forces with four other exceptionally talented kids to pull off a high-stakes heist.  This outstanding fantasy adventure novel offers surprising twists, traps, and trickery on every page.  Callan is a charming, nuanced narrator with a heartbreaking backstory that is slowly revealed.  His gaffer guidelines (“Pay attention to the details everyone misses”; “Need. Greed. And speed … are the three pillars of a most effective gaff”) give insight into human nature.  Even the con artists can get conned, and a cliffhanger ending will have readers eagerly awaiting another Thieves of Shadow installment.




—Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library

If you are a librarian that would like to participate in this feature, please contact us.

Staff Picks

Staff of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre recommend their favourite books for kids and teens

On the Other Side of the Forestwritten and illustrated by Lori Doody (Running the Goat Press, 2021) Ages 3-5 

Arthur lives with his dog Danton and his dad on a farm surrounded by a  vast forest. The forest is too deep to walk through and some say that’s it filled with wolves or monsters. Arthur’s dad doesn’t believe this and one day he has a magnificent idea to find out what’s on the other side of the forest. Through a lot of work and help from their neighbours, they build a tower  to help them finally have answers to all of their questions.

On the Other Side of the Forest is a story of community, hard work and seeking answers to life’s mysteries. I love the classic style of the illustrations and their darker tone. The story is simple but thought provoking and can fuel many conversations with young readers.



Emma Hunter, CCBC Marketing & Communications Coordinator



Next Issue

See you in January 2022 for our next issue, all about making the world a better place!

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